Since discovering, about two years ago, that the kids' box room upstairs had a dreadful damp problem, I started using that room as my study and turned a downstairs room into a bedroom for them. This is one explanation for my current chest problems - recurring bouts of chronic bronchitis which occasionally shift into difficulties with breathing, as is the case at the moment. Another is that I smoked for too many years and ought to have given up sooner. But any study, even a very damp one, is better than no study at all.
As we prepare to move house this Thursday, I'm aware that I'll be moving into a much smaller house with no spare room where I can work.
Instead, I'll be forced to set up camp in a corner of my bedroom again - something I've only done once before, whilst living in a commune in the Isle of Man. Even when we were in Boscastle, in a tiny windswept house high above the harbour, I managed to convert the front porch into a study. But now - and for some years to come, perhaps - I will be working in a refugee-style situation, possibly without even space for a desk.
It's possible that such cramped conditions may concentrate my mind. It's also possible that they will drive me crazy and leave me unable to work. The likeliest scenario is that I will have to become a 'mobile' poet, moving from the bedroom to the living room when my husband turns in for the night - he nearly always goes to bed earlier than me, since he has to get up earlier - so that I don't disturb his sleep with my typing or scribbling.
Some writers always work like this, of course. Some actively prefer a smaller and less formal space. But although I wouldn't feel comfortable with a large study, the prospect of not having one at all is a little disturbing.
Still, if my corner of the bedroom isn't too damp, I shall be grateful for that at least.
Spot the familiar poet leering down at me from the wall behind my computer? Maybe one day I too will sport eyebrows of that calibre ...
And yes, that is an old pasting table I'm using as a desk. What you can't see is the tower of books underneath, supporting the table where it sags in the middle.